ALISO BEACH PIER
The dates for when the events that unfolded with respect to storm damage and removal of the Aliso Beach Pier found online differ a little but are all within reasonable proximity. It was built in the early 1970’s and was one of two iconic and remaining piers in Laguna Beach, California. It had a distinguished Diamond Shape which offered an incredible view of Laguna Beach to the north and was built for fishing, leisurely strolls, bird watching and taking in sunsets. It included a snack bar and restrooms and the fishing from the pier was said to be exceptional. Perch, croakers, halibut, bass, mackerel, barracuda, bonita, sand sharks, rays and sheepheads were said to be caught off the pier. The only complaint about that pier was the presence of hornets that frequented the area with the smell of fresh bait. They were annoying and I remember that hornets have always seemed to have liked they syrupy sweet goodness found in soda cans tossed into the trash cans. It made throwing your trash away a potentially stinging experience!
The Aliso Beach Pier took beatings from large waves as high as 20 feet in the El Nino Storms of 1983 and 1986. It took a beating in 1997 again. Officials noticed the pier would sway in large waves and made the only decision they could make in the interest of public safety. They deemed it unsafe and closed it. At one point, there was said to be an approval for a $1 million reconstruction plan for the pier with the blessing of the California Coastal Commission, but that hope was squashed when an engineering firm was brought in to look at and assess the damage. They determined that the pier was unsafe and offered the expert opinion that if a pier was desired for the Aliso Beach location, they would have to tear it down and build from scratch. It was also determined that the reason the pier fared so poorly in the weather and wave conditions was more due to poor design and construction than it was for the beatings provided by large wave events and storms. A porous concrete was used that proved inadequate in ocean water and salt air conditions. Years ago and while in the water, wave riders saw chunks of concrete fall off the pier and into the water. The move to tear the pier down was made in a vote in September of 1988 and was demolished and removed in 1999. R.I.P Aliso Beach Pier!
Laguna Residents were said to have been okay with it due to the belief that their iconic pier would be rebuilt. With a price tag that some have said would top $3 million dollars, it was decided by officials that the beach was better off without one. They could have just said that Orange County was going through some tough times and that the money just wasn’t there. At that point, maybe a donor would have come in and saved the project! Instead they made a decision for everyone in South Laguna Beach and the millions of tourists that have seen this beach since. As a wave rider and thinking about those who enjoyed the fishing off the pier, we would take exception to the idea Aliso Beach was better without a pier. In December of 2007, the final straw on the Aliso Beach Pier was the restroom area that remained after the demolition of the pier. The beach today is aesthetically pleasing, lined with palm trees and grass parkways while including good parking, handicap access, a snack bar, eating area, restrooms, fire pits, shower area and a playground for children. Whether or not the beach is better off without a pier is highly debatable and it depends on who you ask. It remains one of the most picturesque beaches in Laguna Beach, California and it attracts some of the best wave riders from the skim board, body board, tray surfing, and body surfing communities. When conditions are just right, Aliso Beach will entice the occasional surfer to be a hero! For those generations of wave riders that grew up with the pier, it is clear that the pier made Aliso Beach a special place to ride waves.